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New plans to further improve local air quality approved

New plans to improve air quality over the next five years were approved by Lewisham Council’s Mayor and Cabinet this week.
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One of Lewisham's parks in the Autumn, with a field in the foreground and a variety of trees in the background

The new Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) for 2022-2027 sets out a series of measures that the Council will take to reduce air pollution, which has been linked to asthma, heart disease and lung cancer.

This includes introducing up to 75 additional air quality monitoring sites across the borough, working with GPs and pharmacies to raise awareness of air pollution, initiatives to tackle wood burning and other indoor pollution, and a series of steps that will support more people to walk and cycle.

Schools, hospitals, care homes and lower-income areas will be prioritised for monitoring. This will help address the disproportionate impact that air pollution has on children, elderly people, people with health conditions and residents on lower-incomes.

The Council will also be creating a schools-specific Air Quality Action Plan to further protect young lungs from toxic air. The schools’ action plan will include additional School Streets, cycling lessons, anti-idling workshops and more greenery around schools.

Information about air pollution and how to reduce it, and how to access air quality monitoring tools, will be shared with residents through a series of communications channels. This includes the Council’s digital channels and its Lewisham Life magazine, as well as direct engagement with under-represented and vulnerable people through GPs, pharmacists and other public health colleagues.

The action plan – which was developed in consultation with local residents – sets out seven key air quality priorities for the next five years:

  • Monitor air quality levels – invest in additional air quality monitors and expand the Council’s diffusion tube network, with priority given to schools, care homes, hospitals and lower-income areas.

  • Reduce emissions from developments and buildings – work to minimise emissions from existing buildings and new developments, using a series of measures – including policies, enforcement, an awareness campaign on wood burning, and engagement with businesses, residents and other partners.

  • Work with Public Health to raise awareness – place the Council’s Public and Environmental Health teams at the centre of this action plan, and work with health partners to raise awareness of air pollution, its risks and how to address it

  • Improve delivery vehicles and services – take steps to ensure that older, highly polluting vehicles that deliver goods and services are upgraded to be more environmentally- friendly

  • Improve the Council’s fleet – make the Council's vehicles greener to help reduce emissions

  • Develop local solutions – introduce measures to tackle air quality in highly-polluted parts of the borough, including in the South Circular. These measures include planting more trees and installing additional air quality monitors.

  • Create cleaner transport make sure that sustainable methods of transport are easy to access and create safer and greener roads, including through introducing more School Streets, Play Streets, EV charging points and bike hangars.

Air quality is also a key part of Lewisham’s London Borough of Culture programme, We Are Lewisham, which uses art and performances to highlight the climate emergency and how it can be addressed. This includes Breathe: 2022, a striking new public artwork by Dryden Goodwin and Invisible Dust which movingly reminds us that clean air is a matter of life or death.

Cllr Louise Krupski, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Action, said: “Air pollution has been decreasing in Lewisham and London over the past few years, but there’s still much more that needs to be done to address this public health emergency.

“Our bold new action plan sets out the tough measures that we will take to create a greener, healthier and safer borough for current and future generations. These include tackling wood burning, expanding our monitoring network, protecting vulnerable people and making active travel more accessible.

“Thank you to everyone who has shared their views and supported this action plan. Your contribution will help shape our approach to improving air quality in the years to come.”

Find out more about the Air Quality Action Plan 2022-2027.

Get involved

There’s lots of ways that residents can reduce air pollution in their neighbourhoods, including:

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